Coyotes GM: Ekman-Larsson ‘is going to carry us’

Posted: 05/08/2017 in NHL, Sports
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Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka has been one of the busier NHL executives this summer, adding to his roster at almost every position.

The key to Arizona’s future success, however, lies with a player that has spent his entire career in a Coyotes uniform – assistant captain and No. 1 defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

“It’s a bit of a reboot here but I think we’ve got a good core, a young nucleus led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson,” Chayka told NHL Tonight on Friday. “He’s going to carry us. You only go as far as your top players can bring you.”

In a few short months, the youngest-ever GM in North American sports history has remade the identity of a hockey club that has languished at the bottom of the NHL standings for the past five seasons.

Arguably, the most important piece to Chayka’s offseason plan was the acquisition of three-time Cup champion Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Chicago Blackhawks. The 30-year-old veteran will be counted on to play top minutes with fellow Swede Ekman-Larsson.

“Nik, for us, is a guy that comes in and can be that top-pairing guy with Oliver, and like I said, we are going to go as far he’s able to bring us and he’s going to kind of push this thing forward,” Chayka said.

“So, he needs support, he needs help, and we think Nik can do that for him.”

At 26 years old, Ekman-Larsson is one of the top offensive rearguards in the game – registering 30-or-more points in five of his seven seasons in the league – and will be counted on to lead a young Coyotes club looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

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